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Checks on Petrol Importers Hit Bureaucratic Snags

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Some northern provinces are struggling to carry out inspections of petrol stations and fuel importers as central level officials have not provided them with the necessary documents and information.

Bokeo is one of the provinces in a challenging situation even though local authorities are aware that some petrol stations and importers are operating without a licence, according to the provincial Industry and Commerce Department.

“We have reported our difficulties to the inspection and trade sectors in Vientiane but have yet to receive a response,” department official Mr Philasaen Keodara told Vientiane Times yesterday.

“We need detailed information about how many petrol import companies are operating legally in Laos and how many litres they import each year, month or every three months,” he said.

Official appointment documents and detailed information would force companies without licences to register and enable inspections to take place, said Mr. Philasaen.

Licensing would mean that fuel-related businesses would have to pay taxes and give customers confidence in the quality of the petrol they were buying.

Many petrol agencies or branches run import businesses in the province without a licence or paying taxes.

The department said they had also counted 73 petrol stations but only 40 had a licence to operate.

Last month the government announced the termination of tariffs and tax exemptions on all types of fuel imports including fuel imported for use by aid and defence projects.

That means the importers of all types of fuel are required to pay the full tariff and taxes in line with the related laws.

The reason for the move is to legalise the import of all types of fuel and ensure transparency in revenue collection, to ensure the government is paid the money it is owed.

Because Laos is an undeveloped country, infrastructure is poorly developed so the government granted tariff and tax exemptions on fuel imported for the purpose of driving infrastructure development, hoping to attract more investment in this sector.

The challenges faced by Bokeo province are just one case that the sector responsible, including line ministries, should follow up so that inspections of fuel-related businesses can proceed.

The problem is that there are opportunities for people with money to set up their own companies without paying taxes, which means the government loses out.

The authorities are also concerned that the operations set up by these illegal companies will impact on consumer confidence because the petrol they source does not come from the company that sells it.

 

Source: Vientiane Times